“Dynamic Perfectionism”

Sometimes when I work with my clients to understand what can go right with their projects, I ask them to describe the perfect outcome or the perfect process.  I think the word “perfect” invokes a state of mind that removes barriers to or inhibitions in expressing what could be possible.  If you can visualize what it will be like when things are going perfectly, you can get closer to it.  But, “perfect” also makes people nervous.  If I describe the perfect outcome, am I setting myself up for failure?  How do we balance striving for an inspiring picture of what can go right with the risks of aiming high? Continue reading

The Missing Question

How often do you ask this question: “What can go right on my project?”  My experience is that most people ask other questions in dutifully performing good project management:

  • What are we trying to accomplish to help our organization?
  • What work do we have to do?
  • How much can we spend?
  • When does it have to be completed?
  • How do we acquire what we need to do the work?
  • How will we manage our team?
  • Who needs to know what we are doing?
  • How do we make sure we conform to specifications?


  • What can go wrong and how do we mitigate these risks?

If you are an experienced project manager, you will note that these questions reflect the Project Management Institute’s 9 project management knowledge areas from the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).  The PMBOK, which I became intimately familiar with when I prepared for my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, is a great framework to understand the practices, tools, and techniques that support a well run project.  Not paying attention to the 9 questions will undermine your chances of success.  But, project managers can apply all the tools and techniques and still fail.  In my 30+ years as a project manager and project management consultant, I’ve tried to see what makes a project manager successful.  If I had to narrow it down to one thing, I think it’s the ability to see what can go right with a project.  And, it’s knowing which of the things that can go right must go right for you to be successful.

If you are still reading and think I might be on to something, let me tell you a story that illustrates what I mean. Continue reading